Shrinking budgets and old ways of doing things don’t have to stifle innovation. In fact, in many ways austere budgets and impatience with inefficient processes can actually be catalysts for forward thinking and transformational change. The U.S. Navy is counting on the "young turks" — young people, junior officers and those full of new ideas and impatient for change to raise their ideas through their command channels to increase the effectiveness of maritime operations or even perhaps to revolutionize warfighting concepts.
To this end, Rear Adm. Terry Kraft, commander of Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC), published The Innovator’s Guide (https://www.nwdc.navy.mil/ncoi/Innovation%20Reading/Innovator%27s%20Guide%20Book.pdf) which outlines the path to creative thought and the generation of new ideas.
In early 2012, Adm. John C. Harvey, then-commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, challenged Kraft and NWDC to jumpstart and formalize innovation efforts across the Navy. Since that time, much has been done, including the establishment of the Navy Center for Innovation and CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell, both hosted at NWDC. In essence, the cell serves as a mechanism to transform game-changing ideas into solutions and as an alternative path to fielding solutions.
Other efforts by NWDC have included a Maritime Innovation Symposium 2012, Junior Leader
Innovation Symposium and Pacific Rim Innovation Symposium. The NWDC website also hosts an
innovation blog. NWDC is known for its stellar reputation as an enabler for the rapid generation and development of innovations in naval warfighting concepts and doctrine in the joint and coalition arena. So establishing a Navy Center for Innovation at NWDC is a logical choice to advance fresh ideas in maritime operations and naval doctrine.
Young leaders are encouraged to read The Innovator’s Guide as a first step “to apply the American spirit of ingenuity that is ingrained in all of us” so that they have a solid understanding of what innovation is and why it is essential to the Navy. It is also important to become familiar with proven techniques that will help young leaders become more innovative thinkers.
Young leaders are encouraged to:
- Think deeply.
- Question continuously
- Debate rigorously.
- Read broadly.
- Write boldly.
- Never give up on a good idea.
NWDC is the Navy’s executive agent for the concept development and concept generation program. The program provides a collaborative method for harvesting and transforming ideas into new capabilities by creating a channel for innovation that stimulates creativity and participation from the deckplates as well as to meet leadership demands for new capabilities.
As the Navy Center for Innovation, NWDC is the entry point for ideas and manager of the process. Through the center website, you can submit an idea, see examples, and follow your idea as it is reviewed by an appropriate organization for adoption or further study.
To keep the momentum going, NWDC periodically conducts live and online forums to increase awareness for innovative thinking, to harvest new ideas and to promote a culture of innovation in the Navy.
Navy Warfare Development Command - https://www.nwdc.navy.mil
Sharon Anderson is the CHIPS senior editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.